A beginner’s guide to machine safety

Looking after the machinery and tools with moving parts in your warehouse not only prolongs your equipment’s useful life, but it vastly improves safety for employees and visitors to the site, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries. Putting simple-to-follow rules in place regarding its operation, cleaning etc., as well as investing in good quality machine guarding systems are great ways to increase machine safety. Here are some more ideas.

User safety

Never try to remove any protective measures placed on the machine for safety reasons. Replace any broken safety equipment immediately and ensure that anyone who uses the machine is properly trained on how to operate it and how to deal with any problems. Aim to clean and lubricate the machinery without removing safeguards and never use any unauthorized equipment with the machine. Tie up your hair and remove dangling jewellery ahead of use.

Attention, please!

Never leave a machine unattended if it has been switched on and has parts that are moving. In fact, some machines will still have moving parts after it has been turned off, as it cools down, so always wait until everything has come to a complete standstill before walking away. Pay careful attention as a machine operates, watching for potential hazards, such as overheating, items getting stuck inside the mechanism, or parts breaking down. Always report any problems you encounter straight away and make sure the machines are routinely serviced so they work at their best without the risk of suddenly breaking or malfunctioning.

Choose the right guards

Machine guards are as crucial to get right as the machines themselves – more so, as they preserve life and prevent injury as well as protect the machine itself from damage. Machine guards are made out of strong materials and are used to stop employees from coming into direct contact with dangerous parts of the machine or piece of equipment. They can be made of metal sheeting, mesh steel partitioning and other protective materials. Fixed guards can be installed for permanent protection, while interlocking guards provide a more versatile option if you need to move or disassemble machinery regularly. Knowing which type of machine guard is the most effective one to use is not always easy, so seek professional advice if you are unsure.

All in the detail

When choosing a machine guarding system, consider which part of machinery you need to protect. Moving areas, such as chains, gears, pulleys and rods are an important aspect to consider, as are shaft ends, sanders and flywheels. Look at tools with moving parts too, such as pneumatic tools, saws and grinders. Look at areas that open and close that need regular oiling as well, as these can trap fingers, hair or clothing in them and cause serious injuries.

Final tips

Once you have chosen your machine guarding system, make sure it is correctly installed and firmly fastened using the right tools and in a way that stops workers from removing them at will. Keep guards away from pinch points and inspect them often for signs of wear and tear or damage. Keep guardrails at a height of at least 42 inches with a clearance of 15 inches for optimum protection.

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